Maria Sharapova won her first match at the Australian Open 6-0, 6-0 over fellow Russian Olga Puchkova.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Maria Sharapova finished her first match of the year in 55 minutes Sunday, cruising to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over fellow Russian Olga Puchkova to start proceedings on center court at the Australian Open without showing signs of trouble with her sore right shoulder.
The second-ranked Sharapova, who lost the final to Victoria Azarenka here last year before going on to win the French Open, faced a mere two break points in the match and she saved both of those in the first game.
Then she went on a 12-game roll that earned her a second “double bagel” inside a year.
Sharapova started her run to the French Open title with a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Alexandra Caduntu at Roland Garros last year. But she said the score wasn’t really relevant.
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“If you win 7-6 in the third, you’ve still won the match,” she said.
Sharapova withdrew from the Brisbane International earlier this month with an injured right collarbone, saying she wanted to concentrate on being fit for the season’s first major. She skipped that tournament last year, as well, before going on to reach the Australian Open final.
“After a couple of close games and a few break points, I certainly started to concentrate a bit better,” she said. “I didn’t want to concentrate on the fact I hadn’t played a lot of matches. I just wanted to focus on what was ahead of me and really be aggressive.
“It was one of those matches where I didn’t try to worry about her too much.”
Sharapova has a potential third-round match against American Venus Williams, who needed an hour for a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan.
No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland won the last nine games in her opening 7-5, 6-0 victory over Australian wild-card entry Bojana Bobusic and 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur beat Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 to end a run of five losses on home soil.
Sixth-seeded Li Na, a Chinese standout who lost the Australian Open final before winning the 2011 French Open, had a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan, while No. 18 Julia Goerges of Germany and No. 27 Sorana Cirstea of Romania also advanced.
On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-2, 6-4, 7-5. Djokovic is seeking to become the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian titles.
No. 10 Nicolas Almagro of Spain beat American qualifier Steve Johnson 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2; No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland beat German qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 6-2, 6-4, 6-3; and No. 16 Kei Nishikori of Japan posted a 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 decision over Romania’s Victor Hanescu.
No. 32 Julien Benneteau of France ousted rising Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
Venus Williams played with power and determination and took command of her match early with a steady stream of winners and powerful serves.
She skipped last year’s Australian Open because of illness and was warmly welcomed with applause as she entered the court. Venus Williams had the biggest jump of any of the top players in 2012, moving from outside the top 100 to finish the year at No. 24.